Shikabane Hime: Aka 5

Episode 5 of Shikabane Hime: Aka, “Traitorous Monk”, starts off from the end of the previous episode, with Keisei finally coming out clean with Ouri. But it’s not much of an exposition: the only things Keisei tells Ouri are that Makina is a shikabane hime, that he thinks shikabane are born when someone dies in a way they consider meaningless, and that he is Makina’s contract monk. There wasn’t much that we didn’t already know already, although it raised the thought that genocide in the Shikabane Hime universe must be almost non-existent, otherwise the human race would have been wiped out with the enormous number of meaningless deaths that happen …

The next scene shows us a group of teenagers approaching an abandoned SUV. The rumors are that there’s an unsupervised rental car that anyone can take out for a drive, and that anyone who didn’t return the car back right where it was parked would disappear. The reality is that it didn’t matter if they wanted to return the car or not: soon enough, the car takes control of itself and offers a bunch of weapons for the occupants to kill each other with. The end result is a bloodbath, and as blood leaks out of the SUV, now parked at a car wash, the sinister monk we’ve been seeing collects some blood.

The next day at Ouri’s school, there are a couple of new people transferring to the school. One is a teenage girl named Yamigami Itsuki, whose attractiveness draws the attention of all the boys in class. Unfortunately for Ouri, Itsuki pays attention to him (“because he reminded her of a dog she used to raise”), which earns him the jealous anger of the rest of the boys in his class. The other new person to school is a new teacher, who seems to be the new coach for the archery club, and he seems to be as popular with the girls as Itsuki is with the boys. However, he seems to be hiding his true abilities in archery as he misses the center on purpose with his demonstration shot.

Meanwhile, Keisei and Makina are taken off active duty. It turns out that his father is one of the higher-ups in the organization, maybe even the boss, and Keisei had promised to keep their activities secret from Ouri in exchange for being allowed to hunt shikabane. Incidentally, Keisei’s father is the contract monk for Kamika, a shikabane hime known to be the strongest in the organization, who offers to handle the recent suspected shikabane activities. However, another pair has already been deployed, and it’s not hard to guess who they are given the sudden appearance of two new people at Ouri’s school.

Itsuki, the young girl of the new pair, asks Ouri to come along with her at night for support as she claims she was invited by an upperclassman for a drive in the rumored rental SUV. Ouri isn’t particularly interested, especially after hearing about rumors that no one came back after getting on the car, although he does seem to be attracted to Itsuki’s looks. However, after finishing his part-time job, the ethereal cat appears yet again and airs its suspicions that the rumored rental car is related to shikabane. Meanwhile, Keisei is exasperated at Makina as she went off on her own to deal with the current shikabane threat.

At a random parking lot, Itsuki is waiting for Ouri next to the suspicious SUV. Before Ouri can try to talk Itsuki out of getting on the car, Makina arrives. Itsuki suggests the three of them take a drive, and the next scene we see is the three of them taking a drive on the car. I’d be more worried about Itsuki’s driving skills than the car being a shikabane, though, given how much her driving sucks. At least she’s honest enough to admit that she lied about being invited by an upperclassman and that she just wanted to take a drive with Ouri.

Eventually, the car is speeding and swerving even more dangerously than before, about which Makina and Ouri complains, but Itsuki denies responsibility, showing that she isn’t even controlling the steering wheel. Nor do the brakes work. The navigation system turns on and displays an ominous message: the car is just for one person and that the number of passengers should be decreased. It also “kindly” provides the necessary tools, a bunch of weapons that could be used to kill each other.

Itsuki woodenly takes a gun and aims it at Ouri, saying that there’s no other way since she doesn’t want to die. I don’t know if she’s making fun of the car or trying to disguise her identity before unleashing violence against it, considering that she’s obviously already dead. But Makina is having none of it, and shoots a hail of bullets inside the car, although she seems to be having far much too fun while she’s doing so. She also pushes Ouri out of the car and tries to do the same for Itsuki, but the latter is already gone when Makina looks her way.

When Ouri comes to after being unceremoniously pushed out the car, the ethereal cat approaches. The sinister monk also approaches, something the cat is very unhappy about as it retreats. The monk introduces himself as being called the “traitorous monk”, and explains that he wants to destroy all the shikabane hime. He ridicules the idea that shikabane hime are “good” shikabane, and tells Ouri that shikabane hime can go to heaven after destroying 108 shikabane, that the monks are using them to destroy other shikabane. He doesn’t quite explain how that’s a bad thing, though.

As the traitorous monk is talking, he’s attacked by a gun, which turns out to be wielded by Itsuki. Even as she shoots a hail of bullets from her two handguns, it doesn’t harm the monk, which makes me wonder if he’s a shikabane himself. The very last thing to happen in the episode is the appearance of her contract monk Sougi Takamasa, the new teacher at Ouri’s school, who had just shot an arrow against the traitorous monk. We then get to see a new ending sequence, which is apparently thanks to the appearance of Itsuki and Takamasa so that they can show all the shikabane hime and monk pairs without spoilers.

By Shounen A

伝説の少年A. The Legendary Boy A. The counterpart of Konata Izumi from Lucky Star, he is an otaku of legendary reputation whose tastes foretell the rise and fall of anime series. Or not.